September 8, 2006

Gift honors Farrell’s longtime commitment to Saint Meinrad

By John Shaughnessy

It all started with two Irish Catholic kids from the east side of Indianapolis who shared a love for baseball.

Years later, it has developed into an unexpected yet generous gift for the Church.

The story begins more than 65 years ago when Charlie Farrell and Jim Sweeney met as first graders at St. Philip Neri School in Indianapolis. Sharing a love for baseball, they soon became friends and later pitchers on the school team.

The friendship lasted even as Sweeney went to study at Saint Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, and Farrell attended Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

While his friend eventually became Father James Sweeney, Charlie Farrell married and eventually started his own business, CR Electric in Indianapolis.

Twenty years ago, Farrell also started a golf outing that showed his ties with Father Sweeney were still tight.

Farrell decided that the golf outing would be a fundraiser for Saint Meinrad Archabbey and School of Theology. After 20 years, the golf outing has now raised about $230,000 for Saint Meinrad.

“Charlie wanted to raise money for the School of Theology and to promote vocations in honor of Father Sweeney,” said Duane Schaefer, director of annual giving for Saint Meinrad Archabbey and School of Theology. “Charlie and his son, Mike, do this every year out of the kindness of their hearts.”

Farrell recalls the first golf outing as a “spur-of-the-moment” event that was lucky to raise about $2,000. Now, he marvels that it contributes about $15,000 annually.

He was also surprised when a group of golfers from Saint Meinrad arrived for the Aug. 24 outing that was held at the Links Golf Club in New Palestine. During the outing, Archabbot Justin DuVall presented Farrell with a framed picture of the re-modeled Archabbey Church in recognition of Farrell’s commitment.

“It’s beautiful,” said Farrell, now a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. “My wife and I are planning on going down there soon. The golf outing is just a fun thing. Everybody has a good time and there are a lot of good people. My sons who own the company now, Michael and Stephen, enjoy it so I know they’ll keep it going.”

A father of six and grandfather of 15, Farrell is also making plans for a 60th reunion for the 1946 class of St. Philip Neri School. Farrell and Father Sweeney—who died in 1990—were among the nearly 70 graduates of that class.

Farrell looks back across the years to those days at St. Philip. He thinks about his teammate who became a priest. He thinks about how the golf outing has evolved.

“It’s a miracle things like this develop into what they do,” he said. †


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